Shirley Ballas

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Shirley Ballas
Born Shirley Rich
(1960-09-08) 8 September 1960 (age 58)
Wallasey, Cheshire, England, UK
Occupation Dancer, dance teacher and dance adjudicator
Known for Dancing with the Stars US
Strictly Come Dancing
Spouse(s) Sammy Stopford (divorced)
Corky Ballas (divorced)
Children Mark Ballas

Shirley Ballas (née Rich, formerly Stopford; born 1960)[1][2] is an English ballroom dancer, dance teacher, and dance adjudicator from Wallasey, now in Merseyside, who specialises in the International Latin division, where she won several championship titles which earned her the nickname The Queen of Latin.[3]

In 2017, Ballas became the head judge on the BBC TV show, Strictly Come Dancing, replacing Len Goodman.

Life and dancing career[edit]

Ballas was born and raised in Wallasey, England, with brother David and mother Audrey. The children's father left the family when Shirley was 2 years old.[2] She began dancing at age 7, and began performing competitively the following years.[2][4]

At 15, Ballas moved to North Yorkshire to partner British Ballroom Champion Nigel Tiffany, which she described as "a difficult time".[2] Two years later, she moved with Tiffany to London, where their partnership ended after dance teacher Nina Hunt convinced her to audition to partner with dancer Sammy Stopford.[2] The two married when Ballas was 18, with the relationship ending five years later.[2] As dance partners, they came second in the 1982, 1983 & 1985 Professional World Latin Dance Championships.[5] The pair won the 1983 International Latin American Dance Championship,[6] and were the 1984 UK Open Champions in Professional Latin.

In the mid-1980s, she married Corky Ballas.[2] Together they won the International Latin American Dance Championship for 1995, at the Royal Albert Hall in London. (They had met at a Latin competition in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.) The pair moved to Houston, Texas to compete in the US. Their only child, professional ballroom dancer Mark Ballas, was born in 1986.[2] However, the couple were divorced in 2007.[citation needed]

Ballas stopped competing in dance competitions in 1996, becoming a dance coach and judge for ballroom and Latin American competitions.[7]


Dancing with the Stars[edit]

Ballas has appeared on Dancing with the Stars, giving master classes and commentating on the show.[8]

Strictly Come Dancing[edit]

On 9 May 2017, it was announced that Ballas would be joining the judging panel of Strictly Come Dancing on BBC One, replacing Len Goodman as head judge. She made her first appearance on the panel four months later - at the launch show of series 15 on 9 September that year. [9]


Year Title Role Notes
2009 Dancing with the Stars
2017— Strictly Come Dancing Head judge Series 15 onwards
2018 Loose Women Guest panelist 2 episodes
Who Do You Think You Are? Self Episode 5


  1. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2005 — Name: Shirley A Rich; Mother's Maiden Surname: Standring; Date of Registration:Oct-Nov-Dec 1960; Registration district: Wallasey; Inferred County: Derbyshire; Volume Number: 10a; Page Number: 852
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Shirley's History: Setting the Record Straight". Shirley Ballas official site. Archived from the original on 13 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "Welcome 'The Queen of Latin' Shirley Ballas, to our judging panel". BBC One. 9 May 2017. Archived from the original on 30 September 2017. Retrieved 30 September 2017. 
  4. ^ Groome, Imogen (9 May 2017). "Who is new Strictly Come Dancing judge Shirley Ballas?". Metro. Retrieved 4 June 2017. 
  5. ^ "Dance Sports: World Latin Championship". 7 September 2004. Archived from the original on 7 September 2004. 
  6. ^ Programme of 2009 57th International Championships gives complete lists of previous placings.
  7. ^ "Strictly Come Dancing's new head judge - who is Shirley Ballas? | Press and Journal". Press and Journal. Retrieved 9 May 2017. 
  8. ^ "Who is the new Strictly Come Dancing judge?". BBC News. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2017. 
  9. ^ Ballas, Shirley (9 May 2017). "Shirley Ballas on Twitter: "I am so excited and over the moon to announce that I will be joining the judging panel on @BBCstrictly!". Twitter. Retrieved 9 May 2017. 

External links[edit]